With only 2 weeks vacation, I was looking for a not too far away warm water destination with blue water dives and big stuff. Sudan crept into my mind. Checked the internet on that and found 2 different offers. There are boats starting out of Port Sudan (like Andromeda, Don Questo), where you come in via Dubai on a not too reliable airline, there was one offer starting out of Egypt, Port Ghaleb, on the Royal Evolution. I choose the latter. Went from Frankfurt with Sun Express, one of the Airlines where you have to pay for everything event headsets. Legroom was a tight fit, no fun for large fellers. Flight was 4.5 hours into Marsa Alam. You need two visa for that trip, Egypt and Sudan,. Egypt visa was only 22 €, however for Sudan visa plus dive permit plus ? they charge 419 €. Two weeks on the Royal Evolution cost 2899 €, with the flight and all these mentioned extras you easily reach 4ooo. This is a bit steep compared to Egypt liveaboards, where you might get the same for much less. The big question is, will there be so much more in the Sudan compared to places like Brothers, Elphinstone, Daedalus etc.? The answer to that you have to find for yourself.
The boat is nice, good cabins, large bath, good food, I even got gluten free breakfast and pastry in the afternoon. We were a mixed group of 4 Egypts, 8 Swiss, 4 Germans, 4 British divers. With 24 divers the dive deck sometimes got a bit crowded, when all groups together geared up. A good idea would have been to start each group 1o minutes apart. Diving is from the dive platform of the mother boat or by Zodiac. They offer Nitrox for 140 € for the two weeks. Water had 29 – 30 degress C, I couldn´t believe my eyes looking onto the computer. So 3 mil is fine, I choose 5 , cause they mentioned thermoclines deeper down. However these were not that bad, took temperature only one degree down. They insist on buddy teams, 1 hour or 50 bar to the surface, you can choose to follow the dive guide. I was not too happy with my group, got a buddy, who was not that fit. One dive guide told me not to pass him in the water, he always wanted to stay in front. This was a bit too much for me, sounds like kindergarten. Vis most times was good (40 m plus) only a few times we were swimming in “murky waters”. The reefs were beautiful, a good variety and abundance of healthy soft and hard coral with plenty of colourful fishlife around. We often had big groups of jacks, barracudas, humphead parrotfish, some tuna, groupers, fuesseliers all around, which really was a pleasure to watch. Some places had triggerfish nearly everywhere, I´ve never seen so much around in one place. I hate these guys, they can be a nuisance, one took a bite on my fin. Only two times we swam along a reef, more of a sandy slope than drop off, where there was nearly nothing, only on top of the reef was fishlife. For me the aim was big blue and large stuff, which they tried on most of the morning dives. Often we were lucky and found small schools of hammerheads in around 40 m, some came real close, for me awesome to see these big guys. Silkies were circling above us, once in a while some grey reef shark was cruising by. We even had dolphins in the water twice, one group encountered a tiger near the top of the reef, which I missed. We dove two wrecks, (Umbria, Blue Belt) and visited that Cousteau underwater housing, which is not really worth a dive or staying there only for a couple of minutes. Dives sites were choosen quite well. Only few times the outer reef on the windy side would have been the better choice, as there was sunlight in the afternoon. The dive guides however felt, these were too difficult to reach and dangerous to get in and out of. Only once did we swim with a strong current, most dives were in calm waters. I would have liked a bit more challenging dives, a bit less control under water and longer reins to dive my own ways. Weather was good all the time. Getting back into Egypt it got rough and windy, water temp dropped down to 27, which you noticed immediately.